In Game 1, we saw glimpses of why the Tampa Bay Lightning are the two-time defending champions. Down 3-1 after the first, they battled back to force overtime. In Game 1, Tampa Bay had 25 blocked shots, which is just one shy of their season high of 26. On the other side, former Red Wings turned Colorado player Darren Helm tallied a total of 10 hits with 72 total on the post season. The Avalanche were playing hard, but so was Tampa Bay. Additionally, Colorado went to 13-2 this post season, which matches the best 15 game stretch in Stanley Cup history and winning their last 6 games in a row.
The first period of Game 2 was all Colorado. Tampa Bay was held to just 2 shots on goal and didn’t get their first shot attempt until almost 6 minutes into the period. The speed that Colorado had on display was nothing short of miraculous. It was clear the Lightning couldn’t keep up.
Just 1 minute into the game Tampa Bay was called for a penalty, and Valeri Nichushkin was able to take full advantage on an assist from Andre Burakovsky and Alex Newhook to put the Avalanche up 1-0. This marks Colorado’s 16th power play goal in as many games.
At the 8 minute mark, Josh Manson was able to take advantage of a gap on the stick side of Andrei Vasilevskiy to put the Avs up 2-0. With 6 minutes left in the 1st period, Burakovsky found the rebound off a shot from Miko Rantanen and was able to put the Avalanche up with a massive 3-0 lead. This would make for the third goal this post season for Burakovsky.
Colorado was able to hold Tampa Bay to just one shot attempt through the first 10 minutes, and Vasilevskiy gave up 3 goals in the first period for the second game in a row. Prior to this series, Vasilevskiy had held teams to 2 goals or less in the first period. Colorado is only the third team in NHL history to score 3 goals in the 1st only behind the 1936 Red Wings and the 1981 Islanders.
The Lightning were called for three penalties in the first to Colorado’s one. The last penalty was applied to both teams when Goalie Darcy Kuemper get tangled up with Corey Perry in the crease. Colorado went 1-3 on power play chances in the first, and Tampa Bay headed to the locker room looking for any kind of answer to start the 2nd period.
The 2nd period seemed to be a continuation of the 1st. The Avalanche were moving at lightning speed (pun intended), and Tampa Bay could not find an answer. At 15:09, Rantanen was able to help force a turnover behind Vasilevskiy and made a centering pass to Nichushkin to go up 4-0. This is the 2nd goal of the night for Nichushkin and the third of the series.
Under 1 minute later, Jack Johnson was called for hooking, giving the Lightning their first man advantage of the game. Tampa Bay was unable to convert and are now 0 on their last 12 power plays, scoring only 22% on the post season.
With just 3:34 left in the period, Darren Helm was able to snag a loose puck in the defensive zone and drive to the opposite side of the ice to sink one glove side on Vasilevskiy. This shot put the Avalanche up 5-0 and just added to the already dominant game Helm was having.
To this point, Vasilevskiy has given up 2 goals in the 5-hole but in the previous three series, he did not allow a single goal between the legs. In Vasilevskiy’s 100 post season games, this is the most goals he has allowed. Because of these stats, talk began to surface about pulling him in the 3rd period or if he should stay in the game. The question was answered as the puck dropped to start the 3rd period and Vasilevskiy was found to be in the crease for Tampa Bay.
With 18:56 left in regulation, Tampa Bay was looking for anything to swing their way when Rantanen was called for tripping, putting the Lightning on another power play. Exactly one minute into the opportunity, Cale Makar took the puck down ice in a 2 on 1 advantage and scored his first goal of the series and 23rd point of the post season which leads the Avalanche.
At just over 11 minutes to go in regulation the Avalanche found themselves on another power play where they looked to keep the pressure on. Cale Makar was able to score his 2nd goal of the period on an assist from Nathan MacKinnon and Rantanen. This is the first point of the night for MacKinnon and extends his home game point streak to 9 in a row. Colorado now led the Lightning 7-0.
To this point in his career, this is the most goals allowed by Vasilevskiy in a single game (365 regular season and 100 post season games). Makar is also now the first defenseman with both a power play goal and short handed goal in the same game.
With under 5 minutes t play, tempers flared as a major fight broke out between the players on the ice that resulted in 4 players from each team heading to the locker room. While officials were tied up with the fights along the boards, a 4 man pile up developed in open ice and the fight lasted for well over 1 minute.
As time expired, Tampa Bay found themselves down 2-0 in the series that now heads to Florida for Game 3. While the Lightning came back from a 2 game deficit against the Rangers in the last series, it is going to be much harder to accomplish in this one. Colorado has speed and skill that Tampa Bay just does not seem to have an answer for. If they cannot adjust over the next day and a half, they will find themselves down 3-0.
Colorado finished the night with a massive confidence boost by shutting down the defending champs in every aspect of the game. 11 total players for the Avalanche had at least one point on the night, with both Nichushkin and Makar on the verge of a hat trick. Colorado is 7-0 on the road this post season and looks to continue that streak on Monday night.
If you wish to watch Game 3 of the series, it can be found on ABC at 8PM EST on Monday.